The Art of Petals – An Interview with Fashion Illustrator Grace Ciao


Epoch Times, Singapore Edition (Issue 496, Oct 3 – Oct 16, 2014)

By Ang Xue Er

Grace Ciao is a freelance fashion illustrator and a final year business student at the National University of Singapore.

The self-taught fashion illustrator began integrating real flower petals into her sketches in April this year. She posted her flower petals fashion outfits on Facebook and Instagram, and her followers increased by an overwhelming 20,000 within three months.

Since then, she has been receiving favourable attention from online media, and growing requests for her works from clients around the world.

Andrea Romano from Mashable, a website covering the top social media news, comments: “Ciao creates unique and totally wearable fashions.”

Curious about how leaves and petals become enchantments through Grace Ciao’s magical fingers? What lies behind her unique imagination?

Read on to learn about her journey, and what it’s really like to be able to call something yours.

Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hello! I’m Grace Ciao, a 22-year-old fashion illustrator, and my personal style mainly revolves around markers and water colours to construct designs. Not long ago, I started conceptualising creative fashion outfits by integrating real flower petals into my sketches.

And I am truly gleeful from the generous feeding of positive responses towards the designs that I have posted on my social media (@Grace_Ciao). All of these affirmative reactions to my works have pushed me on to venture deeper into this pet project.

Will you turn your flower designs into real clothes?
Yes, definitely!

How did you feel when you had your first deal?
When I first started out, I would rejoice simply over an email. I recall that my very first email was from a Singaporean lady, who chanced upon my portfolio on Instagram (@Grace_Ciao) and specially requested to have a wedding card designed exclusively for her.

I was beyond ecstatic; I could barely sleep a wink that night!

[I] get more emails now as time passes. And as much as I can finish reading all of them, I can’t reply as quickly as I wish!

Who is your favourite designer?
I admire Elie Saab (a Lebanese fashion designer) a lot! I love how his designs create emphasis on [femininity] and elegance!

I’m very much attracted to his style in particular and pretty much on how he could embody a flower like nature – in a clean cut and elegant manner. He makes mere use of flowers and jewels to create a very sophisticated vibe.

If I were to launch my own couture line, I would want to create such sophisticated dresses too.

Since you are studying business, what will be your future career path?
I have plans of starting my own business and launching my own fashion line one day. This has been a long childhood dream of mine that I’ve been wanting to fulfil.

Sharing more on that, [I am] intrigued [by] romantic, fairy-tale like weddings. Hence, my dream clothing line will be mostly inspired by bridal and couture of late.

What’s your motto in life?

“Always have an attitude of gratitude.” I have actually picked up a habit of writing at least three things that I am thankful for every day. Flipping through my writings now, I see that I have it in abundance.

What else would you like to share about your journey?
Well, back then my parents were hardly supportive of me pursuing a creative education or career despite my liking. However, I painted a lot during my own free time and even had to hide my artworks yet managed to pull through without the support of my parents.

I’m really thankful for this happy chance: [my] results and [recognition have since] brought about my parents’ support. Also, I’ve grown old enough to decide my own future and I know what and how I want to build it.

You see, my favourite quote is – ‘Joy is like a flower that blooms when you do.’

I always believe that as long as we fight on for what we love, happiness and joy will follow after, in a matter of time. Always remember – gratitude.

This Is Singapore is a fortnightly feature that delves into the life of an inspiring and talented individual in Singapore. Read all our interviews here:

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